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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Great Success of Fashion Model Barbie Dolls


The Fashion Model™ Barbie® dolls are a huge hit with collectors. Not since the days of the elegant vintage Barbie dolls have fashion doll collectors been so enthralled with a Barbie® doll series. Collectors cannot seemto get enough of these dolls--they are flying off the shelves, and many of the dolls are bringing prices well above retail at internet auction sites shortly after they are released.The dolls are known officially as Fashion Model™ Barbie® Dolls, but you may have also heard of them as "Silkstone" dolls or "Lingerie Barbies." They have been produced for only two years--2000 and 2001--and so far eight dolls and four outfits have been released, plus one Gift Set including a doll, mix-and match otufits and accessories.

Why all the excitement about this line of dolls? To understand why collectors are so enthusiastic, lets look at a brief history of Barbie Doll Collecting and then at the Barbie Fashion Model Collection.


Fashion doll collectors have collected and loved the vintage Barbie dolls starting in the early 1970s, very soon after the classic "vintage" look dolls with their detailed high-quality fashions were no longer being produced. The classic "vintage" dolls were only produced by Mattel from 1959 to approximately 1966, when mod dolls and fashions took over. New Barbies produced in the 1970s and 1980s were very play-oriented dolls, and often not of high quality. The prevalent look in the 1980s was a "disco" look--big hair, big smile (the "Superstar" face mold) and shiny, glittery costumes.

Doll collectors still loved Barbie, and many of them continued to collect the "pink box" play dolls during that era. Then, in the late 1980s, Mattel created their first dolls aimed at adult collectors. The first doll was a porcelain version of Barbie--the Porcelain Rhapsody in Blue Barbie in 1986. Then, in 1988, Mattel released the 1998 Happy Holiday Barbie doll--the doll that really put Barbie dolls aimed at adult collectors on the map. This doll was not produced in great numbers, but it became an immediate (and hard to get) hit. Today, this doll sells for over $500.

So, Mattel began to produce Happy Holiday dolls for collectors each year, as well as other collector Barbie dolls. In 1994, Mattel produced a watershed doll--the 35th Anniversary Barbie doll, a reproduction of the original 1959 doll. Collectors clamored for this doll...and they hoarded them. Then, collectors started to hoard ALL the collector Barbie dolls. People couldn't find ANY collector Barbie dolls, except on the secondary market. SO....Mattel increased production levels. Eventually, the dolls became TOO easy to find, hoarders bailed out, and prices on the secondary market dropped to where we see them today--often, below retail. At the end of the 1990s, it looked like the modern Barbie collecting craze was well over.

Where Does The Fashion Model Barbie Fit In?

Where Does The Fashion Model Barbie Fit In? Well, during the 1990s, adult collectors begged Mattel for a doll that was like the vintage doll of the early 1960s--a doll that came simply dressed (the 1960s dolls came in their bathing suits) with luxurious, detailed fashions available separately. Barbie not as an astronaut, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Morgan Le Fay, or Morticia Adams, but Barbie as Barbie--as a fashion model!

Mattel made a few half-hearted attempts at this in the 1990s. For instance, the reproduction dolls had some beautifully detailed outfits, but they were only reproductions, and the outfits were never available separately (the dolls were only available as "dressed dolls"). There was also the Barbie Millicent Roberts collection. In this collection, Barbie was a modern working woman, and additional outfits WERE available separately. Some of the outfits were very nice, with accessories and detailing. But, they were not "high fashion." And, the dolls had very modern faces--very close to the faces used on the play line dolls. Further, the dolls weren't limited or exclusive in any manner, and they hit the shelves just when collectible Barbies were overproduced and everywhere.

SO...Mattel tried again to create a doll to satisfy collectors yearnings for a sophisticated, dressable fashion doll, one that would go back to Barbie's roots. And THIS time....they got it right!

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